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Chiropractic care for Infants and Children

Babies and children are susceptible to trauma and injury of their spines, this can be due to the birthing process, intra-uterine constraint, or as your child learns how to do new things, such as crawling or walking, they will fall and bump themselves often.

Intra-uterine constraint is defined as any forces external to the developing foetus that obstructs normal movement of the foetus. If your pelvis was slightly unbalanced and your developing baby could not move around freely, then this may irritate or stiffen joints within your baby’s body.

Caesarian births can be traumatic to a child, especially if there is a lot of tugging and pushing down on the tummy to get the baby out. Natural birth is highly recommended, however it can also be stressful to an infant’s spine and developing nervous system. Births with vacuum cups or forceps are extremely traumatic to your child.

All of these ‘micro-traumas’ can cause stiffness and irritation of the joints in your children’s spine, which places pressure on their spinal nerves. These spinal nerves supply everything in your child’s body, and if they are not working efficiently, they decrease your child’s body’s ability to function optimally. The irritation caused to the nerves may manifest is many different ways; such as sleep disturbances, irritability, excessive crying, pain, or there may be no visible signs at all – these hidden problems may only manifest later on in life.

Research has shown that chiropractic care for your children is very safe. Very gentle and specific techniques are used to care for your children. Infants need no more than a light finger touch to have an effect on their spine. You can bring you child for their first session within hours of birth.

Chiropractors do not treat specific diseases. They free the nervous system from spinal stress, allowing the bodies natural healing potential to function at its best. Parents bring their children to chiropractors for general health concerns such as ear infections, colic, asthma, allergies, bed-wetting, pains, fall, latching difficulties, reflux, colds, sore throats, and many others. These parents want to ensure that there is no disruption to their child’s nervous system, impeding their ability to heal themselves before they seek further medical action.

• Ohm, J. Chiropractic for infants: A look at the evidence. Australian spinal research foundation.
• Pathways magazine
• Ohm, J. Why should children have chiropractic care? Childhood wellness articles.

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Backpack safety for you and your children

Did you know that there are thousands of emergency room visits every year due to injuries related to book bags? Your children’s school bags could be the start of back pain that they may continue to have throughout their lives! Was your school bag the source of your pain over the years? Is your lap-top bag continuing to cause your back problems?

75% of children between 12 and 18 years old suffer from some form of back pain with backpack weight contributing significantly to their pain, a study done in Italy on the over-packing of backpacks showed that the average child regularly carries a back pack that weighs more than 30% of their body weight. These children often suffer from neck pain, mid-back or lower back pain; however some may only have the effects of carrying heavy backpacks later on in life as adults.

In an article by Dr Dean Wright, president of the Ontario Chiropractic Association he states, "Carrying a poorly designed or overloaded backpack can place excessive weight on a child's growing spinal column." He continued, "This kind of daily stress and strain can lead to serious back pain, changes in posture and gait, and potential irritation and injury of the spine, joints and muscles."  

Here are some tips for both you and your children:


  • Your child’s backpack should not weight more than 5 to 10% of your child’s body weight. The same rule applies to you and your laptop bag.
  • The backpack/laptop bag should never hang more than 4 inches below the waistline.
  • Buy yourself and your child a bag that has 2 shoulder straps – wide, padded straps are the best. Use both shoulder straps when carrying the bag. This distributes the weight over both your shoulders, not only on one. Adjust the straps to fit your body or your child’s body. 






 Happy new year!

I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season and travelled safely on the roads!

Start the new year off right by committing to a healthier lifestyle.

The American Chiropractic Association has come up with 10 healthy New Years resolutions that everyone should follow.

They are:

  1. I will limit my intake of caffeinated coffee, sodas and teas. The     caffeine in these drinks can cause dehydration and can rob the body of essential nutrients. Stick to water, natural juices and other decaffeinated beverages.
  2. I will avoid over medicating myself and my family. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications have unknown side effects. Discuss alternative remedies with a doctor of chiropractic.
  3. I will not carry a heavy purse or briefcase with its strap over my shoulder, unless I place the strap over my head on the side opposite the bag. Wearing a shoulder strap over one shoulder unevenly places the weight of the bag on one side of the body, potentially causing shoulder and back pain.
  4. I will not allow my children to carry backpacks that weigh more   than 10 percent of their body weight. Beyond that weight, the backpack can cause the wearer to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, instead of the shoulders.
  5. I will not lift heavy objects over my head. These types of movements can strain muscles and affect nerves, causing severe neck, shoulder and arm problems.
  6. I will not turn my torso while lifting relatively heavy objects.      This rotates the spine and can bring on a "back attack."
  7. I will avoid the habit of consistently crossing the same knee over   the other. Such a habit can also eventually cause misalignment of the spine.
  8. I will try to keep moving while I'm at work. If sedentary for the majority of the work day, it is very important to take periodic stretch breaks. Get up from the desk and take a brief walk, and stretch arms and legs as frequently as possible to avoid postural and spinal stress.
  9. I will, when using a shovel - in winter or summer - remember to push rather than lift, whenever possible.
  10. I will use luggage with wheels whenever possible. Carrying, lifting and moving a heavy suitcase can ruin a vacation.

I hope these resolutions help you find a healthier, better you for 2014!


 Chiropractic for Sports

Every coach wants their athletes, as well as every athlete wants to perform at their best whilst they are training and competing. It does not matter if you are a cyclist, rower, runner, swimmer or gymnast; the end goal is to perform at your peak.

To excel in the sports arena, your body needs to function optimally. Chiropractic care can play a very important role in achieving and maintaining optimal balance within your body. Chiropractic care can help with enhancement of your sporting performance, rehabilitation after a sports injury as well as preventing injuries before they can occur. This is done by enhancing the function of your nervous system, restoring proper joint motion throughout your body as well as enhancing muscular balance. Regular chiropractic care can improve your reaction time, mobility, flexibility and co-ordination while decreasing your risk of injury and aiding in faster recovery time.

Many athletes such as: Golfer - Tiger Woods, Tennis player - Roger Federer, Cyclist - Lance Armstrong, Rower - Anna Cummins and Boxer - Evander Holyfield, to name a few get regular chiropractic care. They do this while training and prior to any competitions to ensure they perform at their peak. They then receive treatment after competition to enhance their recuperative process after the stress placed on their bodies during their events. 

Most sporting injuries are due to repetitive micro strains caused by incorrect joint movements, sudden movements or accidents. Sporting injuries often include conditions like sprains, strains, tendonitis and bursitis. You can help prevent these injuries by getting regular chiropractic care.

Research has shown that chiropractic care can significantly improve mobility, agility, balance, power, reaction time and kinaesthetic perception (Awareness of your body and limb position). Chiropractic can also improve attention span and concentration levels.

For athletes, regular chiropractic care is essential for optimising performance. In the same way that you would not drive a car without getting a regular service, a chiropractic ‘tune up’ should be considered a regular part of your sporting preparation. This will allow you to perform at your peak, as well as minimising injury and enhancing recovery.



Looking after your back and neck during the cooler months

The days have been getting cooler, the sun is rising later and the evenings are getting darker earlier. All signs that winter is on its way, and very soon you will be pulling out your winter wardrobe.

Winter carries special concerns for chiropractors as it is easier to injure your back and neck. Here are some useful tips to keep healthy and pain free this winter:

  •  Keep your neck warm – your neck muscles can go into a spasm easily if they are cold. Polo neck and scarves are a good ways to keep your neck warm. 
  • Lift packages, firewood and any other heavy items with your legs, not your back. Hold the objects close to your body; and rather than flexing forward, try to maintain a slight arch in your lower back and bend at the knees. Lift the object with your legs, and turn your whole body to put your package down, do not twist your back to the side. 
  • Make sure you have enough Magnesium in your diet – this is an important mineral in your body that helps to maintain normal muscle and nerve function. It supports a healthy immune system and keeps your bones strong. It also keeps your heart rhythm steady and helps to regulate your blood pressure. Magnesium can be found in green vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, soy products, whole grains, and bran. The recommended dietary intake of magnesium for men is 400-420 mg and for women 310-320mg/day. 
  • For the sporty people, it is essential to warm up properly before doing any training. Professional sportsmen say that when pressed for time it is better to shorten the length of your workout and keep a good warm-up, than to skip the warm-up and dive right into the workout. Forcing cold muscles to do high intensity; high endurance activities is an easy way to injure yourself.
  • If your muscles are aching have a hot bath and soak your muscles (including your neck muscles), heat helps to relax your muscles, but be careful not to get cold when you get out! 
  • Winter is known for an increase in TV watching and game playing, in both children and adults. Sit up straight on the couch and try to take a break from the couch often, even if it’s just to get a drink or go to the bathroom. Our bodies do not like being stuck in one position for long periods of time. 
  • Don’t wait until you are hurting to see your chiropractor – keep well adjusted. Prevention is better than cure.





Why do stomach crunches hurt my back?

If I do lots of sit-ups, then my core and my back should be strong shouldn’t they? So then why do I get back pain? Having strong abs does mean you have a strong core. You can have a six pack and still have a weakened core. There are many muscles in your back that also form a part of your core musculature. Stomach crunches do not strengthen these muscles, and if you are doing sit-ups incorrectly, you can strain them. It is important to focus on strengthening your core muscles in your back, not only your abs.

It is always a good idea to see an experienced biokineticist or a skilled pilates instructor to get exercises designed for you to strengthen your core.

Dr Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics, believes if you focus on strengthening only one set of muscles within the core, you can destabilize your spine and pull it out of alignment. Dr McGill did research and he found that the amount of load that the spine can bear without injury is greatly reduced when the person pulled in their belly button during crunches. He has come up with a set of basic exercises that can be done to strengthen the entire core, not only the stomach muscles. Below is a picture that depicts the exercises.

If you would like to find out more about Dr Stuart McGill and the work that he does, this link will take you to a You tube video he has created:

Many people want to have a flat tummy, but don’t put your back at risk in order to get it. By doing these exercises you can have the best of both worlds, a flat tummy and a strong back.





 Exercise during pregnancy

As discussed in our previous entry – should I be carrying anything while I’m pregnant - you will pick up weight as your belly grows during pregnancy, this causes the lower back to typically increase its curve and increase forces over your hips, knees and ankles, which will contribute to back and joint pain. Balance may be affected by the changes in your posture, which may place you at an increased risk of falling. The hormones released into your system will also start to soften your ligament and tissues in your body, specifically around your pelvis. This may also place you at an increased risk of spraining/straining your joints and muscles. Research has not shown that the incidence of injury of falling is statistically increased in pregnant woman, however, when prescribing an exercise program during pregnancy, theses should always be taken into consideration.

If you were active before pregnancy, stick to your exercise routine that you had in place before you were pregnant, but realize you will have to adjust it as your pregnancy progresses and your body changes. 

Remember, when lifting objects, squat down and try to hold the object as close to your body as you can, and lift up with your legs, not your back. Make sure you are close to something you can hold for support if you need too. Never pick things up with your back, doing this will only lead to excessive strain on your back, and eventually, injuries will occur.

Pregnancy is not a state of confinement, pregnant woman should be encouraged to continue or engage in physical activity. It is important to be assessed periodically to assess the effects of the exercise on the developing fetus, so any alterations can be made if necessary. Woman with medical or obstetric complications must be carefully examined by their doctor before any recommendations regarding exercise should be made. It is recognized that habits adopted during pregnancy can affect a woman’s health for the rest of her life; therefore even sedentary pregnant woman should be encouraged to become active. Gestational diabetes is more common in pregnant woman who are inactive, rather than those who are active.

The centre of disease control and prevention, as well as the American College of Sports Medicine recommend the accumulation of 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all days of the week. When exercising drink lots of fluids to keep both you and the baby healthy and cool.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has devised guidelines for pregnancy and exercise:

1.    You should not exercise if you suffer from the following:

a.    Significant heart disease

b.    Restrictive lung disease

c.     Incompetent cervix/cerclage

d.    Multiple gestation at risk for premature labour

e.    Persistent second or third trimester bleeding

f.      Placenta Previa after 26 weeks of gestation

g.    Premature labour during the current pregnancy

h.    Ruptured membranes

i.      Pregnancy induced hypertension


2.    You should be assessed by your doctor before you exercise if you suffer from the following:

a.    Severe anaemia

b.    Cardiac arrhythmia

c.     Chronic bronchitis

d.    Poorly controlled diabetes Type I

e.    Extreme morbid obesity

f.      Extremely underweight

g.    History of an extremely sedentary lifestyle

h.    Intra-uterine growth restriction in your current pregnancy

i.      Poorly controlled hypertension/pre-eclampsia

j.      Orthopaedic limitations

k.     Poorly controlled seizure disorders

l.      Poorly controlled thyroid disorders

m.   Heavy smoking

3.    Stop exercising if you experience any of these symptoms:

a.    Vaginal bleeding

b.    Shortness of breath before exerting yourself

c.     Headache

d.    Dizziness

e.    Chest pain

f.      Muscle weakness

g.    Calf pain or swelling

h.    Preterm labour

i.      Decreased fetal movement

j.      Amniotic fluid leakage





 Should I be carrying anything while I’m pregnant?

Many women are told not to lift anything while they are pregnant. This is not true, while you should carry excessively heavy object while you are pregnant, you can still lift many things. Some people recommended that you should reduce your carrying load to 20 – 25% from pre-pregnancy to late pregnancy. This is different for every woman, as woman who rarely works out will be able to lift far less than a woman who is body builder. Lifting heavy loads puts you at more risk of causing injuries to your back rather than to your baby, however each pregnancy is different.

During pregnancy, you will pick up weight as your belly grows, this causes the lower back to typically increase its curve, and this will contributes to lower back pain in pregnant woman. The increase in weight also places increased forces over your joints such as your hips and knees, which can contribute to increased joint pain during pregnancy. Balance may be affected by the changes in your posture, which theoretically means you are at an increased risk of falling, however there is no research that shown the incidence of falling in woman who are pregnant is much higher than woman who are not pregnant.

As pregnancy progresses, all the hormones released into your system start to soften your ligament and tissues in your body, specifically around your pelvis. Theoretically this can also increase the possibility of sprains or strains in your body; research however doesn’t show a significant increase in injuries with pregnancy.

If you lift heavy objects in your job, you should be fine to continue with this during early pregnancy as you are used to lifting at work. As your pregnancy progresses, adjust the amount that you lift to what makes you feel comfortable. Remember, asking for help does mean that you are handicapped or incapacitated, it means that your priorities are correct and the health of yourself and your baby is top priority. If there is any doubt in your mind, ask your doctor.

Studies of woman who worked during pregnancy has shown that woman requiring high levels of activity, such as prolonged standing, frequent lifting, or climbing, made no difference to fetal growth. However, long hours of work reduced fetal growth. When long hours (>40 hours a week) are combined with high levels of activity, fetal growth is reduced even more. Some studies indicate that when lifting weights of 12kg or more, more than 50 times a week, can increase the risk of preterm birth, but this is only among women who stopped working before 32 weeks of pregnancy.

It is very, very important that you know how to lift objects properly. When lifting, try to make sure you are close to something that you can use as support if you need too, such as a wall or a desk. Squat down and try to hold the object as close to your body as you can, and lift up with your legs, not your back. You should be lifting in this way pregnant or not, bending at your hips and picking something up with your back will only lead to excessive strain on your back, and eventually, injuries will occur.

Make sure you hydrate sufficiently when lifting or exercising, drink lots of water, this is important to keep both yours, and the baby healthy and cool.





 At what age should you feed your baby solids?

Many parents are told by health care providers and in many baby books to begin feeding solids to their babies from four months. In my studies and experience I have always been told that six months is always best. So I thought I would do some research into the matter.

The world health organization recommends that solids only be introduced from six months of age. Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. After six months they should be fed adequate and safe complementary foods while continuing breast feeding for two years or beyond.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports this and states that paediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breast-feeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first six months and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infections. During the first six months of age, even in hot climates, water and juice are unnecessary and may introduce contaminants or allergens.

So what does this mean for formula fed babies? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that solids should still only be introduced at 6 months. They do not need water or juice supplementation before 6 months, as is the same as breast fed babies.

In conclusion, no solids, water or juice should be introduced to your baby before 6 months of age, whether they are formula fed or breastfed.

This is supported by the:

  • The Global Strategy of Infant and Young Child Feeding.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians.
  • The Academy of Breast Feeding Medicine.
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund.
  • The United Kingdom Department of Health.
  • World Health Organisation.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics.





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Dr. Alexandra Gibson